Right in the centre - Publishing is a long needed enterprise


By Ken Waddell

Neepawa Banner & Press

In 2024, it will be 35 years that my wife and I have been in the newspaper publishing business. The Rivers Banner has been going for 108 years. The Neepawa Press for 128 years. The Neepawa Banner for 35 years. I personally produced my first publication 58 years ago.

Needless to say, much has changed in 128 years. We have in our possession, newspaper archives that go back to 1896 and the words written in that year are still clear to read and understand on the printed pages. That is the absolute rock solid foundation of the printed word. It can’t be changed, it can’t shifted around to hide the facts or the errors that may have been committed. A newspaper publisher has no place to hide.

I say rock solid, as printed words can’t be changed. Because they can’t be changed, most people who put words in print are careful how they select their words, knowing that errors will come back to haunt the writer.

What passes for journalism today has become a farce. CNN, Fox News and even CBC and CTV have become more entertainment than a forum for facts. Consumption of TV news is declining, radio newscasts are rarely more than three minutes on the hour and most people know they can’t, or shouldn’t, rely on Internet and Twitter “news”.

I am a proud newspaperman and especially proud that we have three local publications, namely the Neepawa Banner & Press, the Rivers Banner and the Farmers’ Advocate which currently publishes ten times per year. 

In the last few years, Canada has lost 100s of newspapers and many TV and radio stations. It’s impossible to count the number of blogs, web sites and Twitter accounts that have evaporated or been abandoned.

There are many reasons. Running any news outlet, be it print, radio, TV on-line is a lot of work. It has to be kept fresh, with new news every edition regardless of the method of production. You have to have reporters and production staff. You have to have ad sales to pay the bills. News costs money as the staff, the printer and the fuel bills all have to be paid. Quite frankly, the news outlets that have disappeared are gone because they went broke. Blunt, but true.

So in the towns that still have newspapers, events are turning somewhat. People are realizing that without ads, the news outlet will die. I am thankful that ads are re-gaining popularity in this paper. Certainly there are other ways than newspapers to spread the word about a business or an event, including reputation, word of mouth, posters and yes, social media. I use social media myself, but it isn’t the be all and end all by any means. Some people don’t use social media at all, some don’t use it much. And social media is set up on a system that severely limits what we see. It may be unintentional, but social media actually limits and censors news and information quite severely.

The newspaper is always sitting there on your table, ready to be read in whole or in part and it is around for a week or more.

Running a local newspaper isn’t easy. It’s a constant work in progress. Note I say “local” newspaper, as many of the 100s of papers and all the TV and radio stations that have disappeared have been owned by big corporations. The “Bigs” don’t place local news or priorities at the top of their list. They, without any apology, place making money at the top of their list. Their CEOs glide from one corporate misadventure to another, taking their over-priced salaries with them as they go.

I am an unapologetic promoter of small local businesses. A business has to have strong local ownership or at least strong local management. Local papers and local businesses have to work diligently to survive and many have survived for well over 100 years. As long as local people want and need local news it will continue. 

Thank you to our faithful readers and advertisers, your support is appreciated.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this column are the writer’s personal views and are not to be taken as being the view of the Banner & Press staff.